• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 48s

Two-foot high kick takes Arctic Winter Games to new heights

By Heather Hintze 9:16 PM March 18, 2014

The sport has deep cultural roots in Alaska's whaling industry.

FAIRBANKS - The concept is simple: Kick the suspended ball with both feet and then land on both feet.

The competitors make it look much easier than it is though.

“It’s a whole other level of difficulty,” said Nick Hanson, a member of Team Alaska from Unalakleet. “You’re not just putting a ball through a hoop every single time. It’s such a small target and it’s so high up there. You’ve got to really focus on being accurate and being explosive enough to get as high as you can get.”

Some of the men can reach up to eight feet. So what does it take to jump that high?

“A lot of confidence,” laughed Casey Ferguson from Team Alaska. “It takes a lot of skill, a lot of practice, repetition, stretching.”

In addition to the stiff competition, the athletes say they also appreciate the cultural significance of the sport.

“Hunters would do the two-foot high kick to signal a bowhead whale was caught. The two feet going up in the air would represent the fluke of the bowhead whale,” Ferguson explained.

“My family is from Barrow and the two-foot high kick did represent the bowhead whale being caught. They would do the two-foot high kick and say, ‘OK, we need people to come help bring the whale in’ or ‘we need people to get the village ready because we’re bringing in a whale,’” Hanson said. “I like that cultural aspect of it.”

For Alaskan athletes, these games are a chance to learn more about their history and pass along the traditions of their ancestors.

“For youth, if they have something they’re proud of they’re going to work a lot harder, they’re going to stay out of trouble. They’re going to push themselves for a better future,” said Erica Meckel from Fairbanks.

“It makes it that much more important for us. I come from Chevak where my culture is still pretty strong and because of that, it’s important to me,” Ferguson said.

Participating in the games is one way to keep the cultural traditions going for generations to come.

Latest Stories

  • Crime

    Man charged with pulling down telephone pole

    by Associated Press on Oct 31, 15:51

    A Fairbanks man suspected of shearing off a telephone pole when his truck pulled down an overhead wire has been issued a reckless driving summons. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1pb91pU) reports 58-year-old James Knopke on Sept. 12 was pulling a trailer behind a 7.5-ton military surplus vehicle, which had a 16-foot homemade boom attached to […]

  • News

    Federal agency releases Arctic drilling review

    by Associated Press on Oct 31, 14:21

    The federal agency overseeing offshore petroleum development has released a revised environmental review of drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast, and critics say it shows the risk is too great. Mike LeVine of Oceana says it’s the third time the government has tried to justify offering leases in the Chukchi Sea based on an unfair evaluation […]

  • Politics

    Campaign 2014: Byron Mallott

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 13:30

    This week, KTVA is running a series of interviews with the main candidates for office. KTVA’s Rhonda McBride brings us interviews with the candidates for lieutenant governor, starting with Byron Mallott — who has worn a number of hats, from mayor of Juneau and Yakutat to director of the Permanent Fund Corporation. For Mallott, however, […]

  • News

    Virgin Galactic spaceship crashes in Calif.; 1 reported dead

    by CBS/AP on Oct 31, 12:28

    Last Updated Oct 31, 2014 4:18 PM EDT MOJAVE, Calif. – A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket, the SpaceShipTwo, exploded and crashed Friday during a test flight, killing one person aboard and seriously injuring another, witnesses and officials said. Wreckage was spotted in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. The spacecraft was carrying a crew of two. The Kern […]

  • News

    Fatal crash closes Seward Highway near Girdwood

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 11:37

    One person has died and another sustained serious injuries after a multiple-vehicle collision on the Seward Highway Friday, Alaska State Troopers say. The crash — which occurred just before 11 a.m. north of Girdwood near Mile 96 — closed traffic in both directions as first responders assisted the victims, said AST spokeswoman Megan Peters. Beth […]

  • News

    Former Guard member speaks out about her assault

    by Emily Carlson on Oct 31, 11:23

    A former Alaska National Guard member says it wasn’t what Guard leadership did, it’s what they didn’t do that nearly killed her after she was sexually assaulted. In the wake of the September report that revealed claims of misconduct and mistrust within the Guard, Spc. Melissa Jones is speaking out. It’s agonizing, she says, but […]

  • On-Air

    Frost project hides art throughout Anchorage parks

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 11:10

    The dark woods can be a scary place, so some local artists are helping to brighten them up this season. You can see new art installations popping up throughout Anchorage, if you know where to look. Every few weeks throughout the winter a new piece will be hidden in a local park and Daybreak will […]

  • On-Air

    Meet Baby Girl, this week’s Daybreak Adopt-A-Pet

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 9:29

    Meet Baby Girl, a spayed, domestic short-hair kitty. She is social and affectionate and will greet you with a purr. She is full of love — even offering little kitty kisses — and loves to be pet, nudging you gently to ask for more. Baby Girl is a senior kitty who has lived with both […]